Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: ‘Dizzy’ Cool Under Pressure and a New Team Member Joins

Katie Conway, Daring Destiny aka 'Dizzy,' and Sarah Hepler celebrating after his Recognized Dressage debut. (Courtesy of Sarah Hepler)

This year, America’s Best Racing and the Retired Racehorse Project will be sharing diaries from several trainers preparing for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover competition, scheduled for Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park. This diary follows the journey to competition among the four-woman strong Unicorn Training Club and their Makeover horse, Dizzy.

If there’s one thing Daring Destiny is good at, it’s moving. That’s right, we moved him again. Like life, sometimes horses are also trial and error. While we love our barn family at Second Wind Stables, team captain and main rider Katie just wasn’t able to get out to Dizzy as much as he needed, splitting her time between two barns. So, Dizzy gets to hang with big brother The Zipster (Katie’s heart horse) and Katie gets a whole lot more time in the saddle.

The Zipster and Dizzy becoming the best of friends. (Courtesy of Sarah Hepler)

But moving isn’t all Team Unicorn Training Club has been up to in the insane month of July: Dizzy made his USDF-recognized debut at Houghton College. For only his second show ever, Dizzy is showing just how amazing the ex-racehorse is. He adjusts quickly to new surroundings and is unfazed by all of the goings-on at a large horse show. Scary arena with shadow monsters? No problem. Unlike many horses at the show, Dizzy didn’t bat an eye.

With the Makeover looming on the ever-closing-in horizon, Dizzy moved up to training level. Yes, that’s right, we threw him into a recognized show for his second show AND moved him up a level. Guess what? He scored five points higher than his last test! Katie and Dizzy came home with two thirds!

Speaking of the Thoroughbred Makeover, our final entry is in! With final entries come final team declaration. Along this journey, you’ve seen this team change shape and size multiple times. Unfortunately, due to personal reasons, Amber Cobb had to withdraw from the Makeover all together. We know she will be cheering for us from afar! But once again, we found ourselves on the hunt for a third team member. As fate would have it, a dear friend and supporter (not to mention extremely talented rider) Jordan Pruiksma found herself horseless for the Makeover. So, welcome to team Unicorn Training Club, Jordan!

Pruiksma and her third-place finisher, Bandit City. (Courtesy of Sarah Hepler)

This will be Jordan’s fifth Makeover. She’s been consistently been in the ribbons taking second in dressage in 2015, ninth in freestyle in 2016, and third in dressage in 2017 (with another Conway Racing retiree!). She’s a professional that currently resides in Aiken, S.C. She’s ridden Dizzy once. But with her expertise, and a few days at the Horse Park prior to competition, we have all the faith in the world that she will be amazing!

The thing about the Makeover is that it has created a community that spans states and countries. It has fostered friendships across distance and riding disciplines. It may be a horse show, but it is so unique in that competitors become family. Everyone shares expertise and ideas readily and is always available with a helping hand. So, it isn’t at all unusual for teammates to cross state lines.

Dizzy is gearing up for his third show this weekend – dressage at New York State Fair. It’s a huge venue but will definitely help prepare him for the atmosphere at the Makeover. We have also been hard at work planning Dizzy’s freestyle performance, finally landing on the songs we will use! It may be crunch time, but we are ready for it! We are coming for you, Kentucky!

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